marketing restaurant tips

Marketing Your Restaurant to Different Generations – Part 1

To meet your restaurant goals, you need to be able to position your facility to the appropriate market. A huge part of marketing has traditionally been “generational marketing” which still holds true to today. There are four current generations that are of the buying age: Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials.  To be able to properly position your business… you need to identify which generation(s) align best with your value proposition. In part one of this blog series we are going to identify the generations and what each generation finds important in a restaurant. 


We’ll start with the youngest generation of purchasers – Millennials. Now as a miliennial myself I have to say we are definitely the generation everyone loves to hate. Probably because we have certainly changed the norms for the way we communicate, make buying decisions, and what we value in a business. Millennials are the generation categorized as those born in the early 1980’s and 1990’s according to LiveScience. We are a huge fan of technology in the work place according to a Restaurant Technology report found that 77% of millennials say technology improves their dining experience.

You may be asking “well are the Millennials that important?” According to POS Sector Millennials represent 64% of the total population, and 60% of them go out to lunch or dinner – once a week. If you choose not to hold the Millennial generation at value you’d be making a huge mistake because they make up such a large group of purchasers. According to Gordon Food Service things that attract Millennials include: 

  • A desire to customize meals
  • A group-friendly menu and/or ambience
  • Craveable foods and beverages
  • New or unique foods and flavors
  • Be easy to find and have your menu online

Different Generations enjoying dinner at restaurant.jpgMillennials don’t just want to go to a place and eat, they want an experience. They want to try new food, they want the food to be fresh, they want to customize their food (like at Chipotle), and they want to share the food with friends. They don’t just want a meal, they want an experience.  

Generation X- 

Next, let’s take a look at the middle generation of purchasers – Generation X. According to Social Marketing they are those born between 1966 and 1976. They are the generation that found themselves between the epic Baby Boomers and Millennials.  Often, you’ll hear this generation referred to as the “lost generation.” According to Gordon Food Service most Generation Xers are attracted by: 

  • A fun, upbeat restaurant atmosphere
  • A menu and environment that is good for groups
  • Preferred beverages, like adult beverages
  • Look for food that is “fresh”  “authentic” “homemade” and “organic.” Gordon Food Services 
  • Food that delivers health benefits without sacrificing the flavor.

Generation Xers aren’t afraid to use technology and they were the generation around when technology was really being developed. They like to gather as a group and with family. They were the first generation to experience high rate of divorces and now strongly value family.  

Baby Boomers-

Lastly, let’s check out the infamous Baby Boomer generation. Baby Boomers are those born between 1945 and 1965. They were the result of many World War II marriages and were raised after the war. This generation has a lot of free time and they try to live the healthiest life possible. They also have the largest spending power over all other generations. According to Gordon Food Service things that attract Baby Boomers include: 

  • Price and value
  • Friendly, attentive servers and staff
  • Quiet, well-lit place where they can carry on a conversation comfortably – Nestle
  • A variety of appealing, healthy options

Manners are huge to Baby Boomers . If your wait staff doesn’t show positive manners it is a huge negative against your facility. 


Traditionalists, aka the Silent Generation were those born between 1928 and 1946. According to The Balance this generation is about 70 years or older. They grew up during the Great Depression and World War II. As this generation’s name would imply hey are traditional. They work hard, are respectful to authority, loyal to their employers, and are the most technology challenged generation. 

According to Square Traditionalists are concerned with :

  • Reliability
  • Fair Pricing/Budget
  • Quality

Traditionalists are very similar to the Baby Boomers. They are looking for a good value and guarantee. They want food that is within a fair budget and that is a fair quality.

We’ve checked out the main differences between each generation. Let’s look at things that are held of value for each. According to Gordon Food Service everyone regardless of generation wants:

  • Fresh, high-quality food
  • Affordable Prices
  • A meal and overall experience that are worth the price paid
  • Fast or prompt service
  • Accurate Orders

If you don’t want to go changing everything about your restaurant that is okay. Try concentrating on just the above values that are of importance to every generation.  Now that you know what is important to each generation, you are ready to learn how that translates to your business.  



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